October 25, 2017

BBC Study Reveals Over Half of Female Employees Sexually Harassed in the Workplace

A specially-commissioned survey in the wake of the recent Hollywood claims of sexual harassment found that half of British women and a fifth of men have been sexually harassed at work or a place of study, according to the BBC survey.

The report found a spectrum of behaviours occurring in workplaces, with transgressions ranging from so-called ‘banter’ to sexual assault among the surveyed population.

Equally concerning is that of women who said they had been harassed. A staggering 63% said they didn’t report it to anyone, and this trend is echoed among male victims where 79% did not report their concerns.

It is therefore a fact that for British employers there is a 50% likelihood of your female workers being subjected to behaviours for which they could be found to be vicariously liable.

Complaints of sexual harassment continue to be regularly referred to Employment Tribunals and it is likely that the current spotlight on unwanted behaviour will lead to an increase in both complaints and litigation, especially given the scrapping of Tribunal Fees in this summer.

Many employers do not realise it is their responsibility to ensure employees are aware of anti-harassment and equality policies. And many more do not realise that the obligation doesn’t just end with having the internal policies – they must regularly train staff and ensure they actively promote policies setting standards of behaviour in order to have a defence should an incident occur.

It is also important to remember that sexual harassment is a criminal offence. Perpetrators not only face disciplinary action – they could face criminal proceedings too.

Outsourced HR & employment law advisers like Moorepay can help employers ensure they have compliant policies and provide training for managers and employees, as well as provide advice and on-site support with investigations or formal procedures should an incident occur.

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About the author

Lisa Gillespie

Over 20 years Lisa has acted as a consultant and adviser on many HR issues and employment tribunals across public, private and third sector organisations. She has worked in most UK local authority areas on projects ranging from social care and health to training and conciliation arrangements. Lisa studied psychology before moving into employment law and HR after further study at Manchester Metropolitan University and the University of Salford, and she is also qualified in project management and counselling.